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STS*: Kerley’s Comfortable, Confident, Patient

Posted by Randy Lange on December 31, 2011 – 12:26 pm

Having the better field position on the Sun Life Stadium pitch on Sunday will be a valued piece to the puzzle if the Jets eke out a win over the Dolphins and squeak into the AFC playoff grid. And there are a few areas to watch to see if the Green & White are giving themselves the best chance for the road win.

On the punt return front, it’s better late than never. Jeremy Kerley is getting up a head of steam.

“I’m starting to feel more comfortable and more confident back there,” Kerley said of his role early in the season and now late on the calendar as the team’s main punt returner. “That’s what you need to play with. That’s what you’ve got to have as a punt returner and a kick returner. You’ve got to be confident in yourself. When something goes wrong, you’ve got to shake it off and put it in the back of your head, because you can make a mistake thinking about what just happened.”

No mistakes Saturday — Kerley was as good as he’s been all season against the Giants. His first return was a 22-yarder to near midfield to start the Jets on their opening TD drive. Then he reeled off returns of 28, 14 and 10 yards. That’s four returns for 74 yards. He had 80 yards in Game 3 at Oakland, and those two games are among the four top PR-yardage games for the Jets in the last eight seasons.

The list includes Santana Moss’ 83-yard, one-TD game in the ’04 playoff game at Pittsburgh and Leon Washington’s 77-yard outing vs. Cincinnati in ’08.

Someday Kerley is going to go the distance and that would be most welcome for coaches Mike Westhoff and Ben Kotwica and Jets fandom because that return will likely be the one that ends the Jets’ drought of 118 games without a punt-return TD, tied for the longest in the NFL. But JK’s already got some of that professional perseverance working for him. He’s not going to force the issue at Miami.

“It’ll come, it’ll come. You’ve just got to be patient,” he said. “I’m approaching this game how I approach all of the games, because when you try to do too much, that’s when something will happen.”

On the kickoff front, the Jets in theory could have the edge in any KO exchanges. With Joe McKnight and Antonio Cromartie splitting the return duties recently because of McKnight’s elbow/shoulder issues, the Jets are off of their blistering season-opening pace yet still handily lead the NFL in average drive start after returns (26.4) while Miami’s coverage is 17th in opponents’ average drive start.

McKnight has been getting full-time treatment this week as he tries to finish his first regular season by nailing down several distinctions. He currently leads the NFL with a 31.9-yard average and could become the first Jet since Justin Miller in 2006 to lead the league in that department. And he could also break Bobby Humphery’s franchise record of 30.7 yards per return, with which he led the NFL in his rookie season in 1984.

While the Jets’ kickoff returns remain among the best in the game, their kickoff coverage unit has risen to prominence and could also play a field position role Sunday. Nick Folk’s kickoffs are resulting in an opponents’ drive start of their 21.3-yard line, seventh in the league, while the Dolphins’ returners, led by rookie Clyde Gates and his 25.0 return average, are again middle of the pick, 16th in the league with an average return to their 21.8.

It’s not just the coverage of the Jets’ big four special tacklers — Nick Bellore, Josh Mauga, Jamaal Westerman and Garrett McIntyre. Folk’s hangtime has had a lot to do with the Jets’ averages and their 25 inside-the-20 stops, third in the NFL.

“I’ve always had that. My natural kick is to get it up in the air pretty good,” Folk said this week. “I’m going to work on trying to get a little more drive on it this offseason. Early in the year I had that down, then as they year went on, well, I’ve got to make sure that stays more consistent throughout the year.

“But when you’re leading the league and they’re starting right at their 20 almost every time, you can’t really get mad at that. Our guys, they want to go down there and make tackles, try to get a turnover and whatnot. They’re excited about the touchbacks, but they’re also excited to make a big play inside the 20.”

It surprised me when I went back to check on the Jets’ kickoff hangtimes that I’ve kept over the last decade. From Doug Brien through Mike Nugent and Jay Feely, none of them ever had a season in which they averaged 4.00 seconds per kickoff. The closest was Feely’s 2009 season at 3.92. Folk came in last year and averaged 4.12 seconds, and this season he’s up to 4.24, a figure that was anchored by his current streak of 41 of his last 42 kickoffs hanging for at least 4.00 seconds.

Every tenth of a second helps, especially with a season on the line in the warm Miami air Sunday.

*Special Teams Saturday

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Posted in Randy Lange | 34 Comments »

34 Responses to “STS*: Kerley’s Comfortable, Confident, Patient”

  1. By Jersey Joe on Dec 31, 2011 | Reply

    Yeah the great returns tend to highlight the fact that the offense is sputtering though. I call our wide outs Tone, Plaxi and Kerley since they have resembled the three Stooges at times this year. Randy have you heard whether Rex and Tanny have any interest in Braylon Edwards – It looked like there was some chemistry with Sanchez that’s missing this season? Has anybody seen Kevin O’Connell play, any chance of him playing Sunday if it’s a blow-out game?

  2. By scjoe on Dec 31, 2011 | Reply

    Kerley is a guy with speed and quickness and decent hands. Why he is not involved more in the slot is a complete mystery to me. People talk about the double coverage on Holmes, if that is the case then Kerley and/or Keller should be matched up 1on1 most times, in Kellers case on a safety or LB. People talk about our WR core as sub par. I totally disagree, if the correct plays are called at the correct time and executed correctly by our QB, these WRs are just fine. But don’t take my word for it listen to what Keller just said about having all the talent in the world at the skill position. I would not go that far, but I would say all are more then adequate.

  3. By SCfromNY on Dec 31, 2011 | Reply

    I wish Kerley luck since that means the Dolphins are punting a lot. Not to hope for less return yards for McKnight but except for the second half kickoff I hope he never sees another kickoff.

  4. By Jet Fan Since '64 Tom on Dec 31, 2011 | Reply

    What the great returns should highlight, Jersey Joe, to any Jet fan with even a yr’s worth of memory is how terrible Rex’s instincts are about players and how he makes it worse by bullying and ridiculing them. The Joe McKnight leading the league and setting Jet records at KR is the same one that Rex disgustingly turned into a national joke on “Hard Knocks.” The Jeremy Kerley’s the same one Rex wanted to bench on PR after his team had lost for a dozen reasons other than a rookie fumbling a few punts in a season. There are a few words I’ve used to describe Rex that Randy won’t print, so I’ll try rephrasing to get at the same idea: Rex’s tenure with the Jets is fraudulent, he has very little talent, very little insight, and ZERO self-control.

  5. By cgb on Dec 31, 2011 | Reply

    It would be nice to see a ST touchdown this week either way. punt ,KO, fumble recovery anything to get us going and take some of the pressure off the offense.Here’s hoping were watching the late games thinking we might have a chance.

  6. By Charliejet on Jan 1, 2012 | Reply

    Forget “Musical chairs” with players – draft fresh, hungry players – build through the draft. Happy new year to all fans.

  7. By GaryC on Jan 1, 2012 | Reply

    Tough decision this week,if jets win they have chance for playoffs and a false sense of security on how good they are and Shotty is definitely back, They lose big and Woody sees the disaster Shotty could be on his way and some of these over the hill and never was players follow him too.

  8. By wayne on Jan 1, 2012 | Reply

    Miami is trying to give them a game and they can’t take it. OC everywhere you read keeps telling us he’s done a good job. He who oversees an offense with no identity, when everyone else knows what that identity should be…………………..He may not be gone, but someone else will be handling his duties……Someone is responsible for this mess. And Mr. T won’t take responsibility. Rexy is untouchable for one more year. They better do some serious personnel work this off season or the attention switches to Rex AND Mr. T…………..Predicted that T. would have to be a magician to put team together last off season, he failed. The degree a difficulty goes up next year. LESS TALKING MORE APPLYING YOURSELVES BOYS.

  9. By Ronald T on Jan 1, 2012 | Reply

    I have watched every Jets game this year. Either we lead the league in payers unable learn to tackle or we have the league lead in coaches unable to teach players how to tackle. Say what you want about Brodney Poole, He can’t tackle. Wilson may be an ok cover guy but he can’t tackle. And Smith Is so slow and small that he can’t tackle anyone that shows even a small degree of effort. Damn shame. But the worst is the offensive line penalities. It’s almost as if we need to game plan for 1st and 15. Go out and get someone who looks at film and works on QB mistakes. Like Lead the reciever once it a while. It’s more than frustrating. It’s wastefull.

  10. By Walt on Jan 1, 2012 | Reply

    As a jets fan I can only wonder needlessly How many stupid point six interceptions and other senceless interceptions Sanchez has to throw not to mention how many times he has to fumble before the Jets so called brain trust realizes that Sanchez is not the answer for the Jets at the quarterback position.His poor play is hurting the morale of the team.I am sick and tired of watching the Jets lose to teams they should have easily defeated.

  11. By GaryC on Jan 1, 2012 | Reply

    the super bowl reprise with plastico and holmes is not happening, what a surprise, a surprise in some quarters but that is why the steelers are who they are. they could live without these two guys,and that is why the jets are who they are,because they live off the names and figure lightning will strike twice.And now getting back to the IFS happening,instead of IF this team loses why not IF we draft a speed receiver with size,IF we draft a running back with outside speed,IFwe draft a speed rusher,IF we draft a safety with speed and IF we draft a right tackle,Then,IF all that happens then MAYBE we make the playoffs next year.

  12. By GaryC on Jan 1, 2012 | Reply

    Gotta love Captain Holmes, being pulled by the coaching staff,what comaraderie,Like I said before the season started these guys who were used to winning the first two seasons under Rex,Let’s see their true colors when things did not go well,not handling it very well, are they.

  13. By sal on Jan 1, 2012 | Reply

    When Rex continually says Brian is going to be a head coach someday, do you think he is really saying he is not a O.C..another note in NY we are use to have coaches saying how it is, this in NY, I dont belive a thing that comes out of Rex;s mouth, I hope the Mike Pettine era is over, and let Rex do what he does best, give rex a assistant for time mgmnt etc

  14. By Dug on Jan 1, 2012 | Reply

    Time to consider offering D.C. position to Rex, getting new O.C. & seeing if
    there’s any interest out there for one of the most selfish wide recievers in football !
    Hope they give McElroy a fair chance to be our starting QB next season !
    We have needs for several upgrades, the before mentioned are glaring needs ! It’s been a fun ride being in the race till the last loss 3 yrs. straight. Not bad. Best run we’ve ever had? We’re close ! Enjoyed some very good posts by many of you fans,especially your’s 64 Tom. Happy New Year to all you Jet Fans and thanks for all your efforts Randy & staff !

  15. By Jimmer on Jan 1, 2012 | Reply

    Not so great a game for Kerley in the return Dept. today. He was great at everything else he did though. He was the bright spot in that game. That pass he threw was a frozen rope. Better than anything BSmith could do, and better than LT’s passes. I’m thinking we got excellent draft value on this kid.

    I’m not ready to discuss the rest of the players from today. But what I saw looked like something earily reminiscent from the RK era.

  16. By GaryC on Jan 1, 2012 | Reply

    matt flynn threw for 6 touchdowns and about 500 yards in green bay, so much for that idea that quarterbacks make receivers,maybe receivers make quarterbacks,Oh yeah that’s right, they have jordy nelson who people early in the year said Plastico was better.Can I make that trade yet.

  17. By Christopher on Jan 1, 2012 | Reply

    Only positive is we improved our draft position. Hope we clean house

  18. By Jimmer on Jan 2, 2012 | Reply

    GaryC, it is OL’s that make QB’s look great. Not only GreenBay, but look at Houston. Wait a minute. Hasn’t Kellen Clemmons been winning as well?
    Oh yeah, maybe he’s the second coming?
    If the OL is bad, the QB will probably be bad as well. Get used to reality.

  19. By Jet Fan Since '64 Tom on Jan 2, 2012 | Reply

    Thanks, Dug, I liked your posts too. GaryC, I’ll give you the pick on Flynn as brilliant enough to make up for the tout on Ducasse, though it’s too early to give up on him yet. But anyone who doesn’t see the difference in arm strength and pocket presence in Flynn vs. Sanchez really ain’t watchin’ closely enough.

  20. By Tom Spicer on Jan 2, 2012 | Reply

    Gary C & Jimmer, You guys didnt know it does not matter who is on the O line it only matters who the QB is. Brady runs around the field like Vick thats why no one hits him (oh yea thats right I forgot he cant run). Brady breaks tackles like Big Ben & brushes defenders off (oh yea I forgot he is a stick figure who goes down on first contact everytime). THE REAL reason is he has a great O line every year he drops back no one gets near him he scans the field & eventually someone gets open & he hits them. Some guys on this site fail to realize unless you have a good O line which the Bradys & Rodgers of the world have EVERY YEAR you will not do well no matter who the QB is. Unless you are a guy who scrambles.

  21. By Tom Spicer on Jan 2, 2012 | Reply

    Gary C, You didnt know Matt Flynn is the next Tom Brady? Or is it that they have a great O line EVERY YEAR, 1 of the top WR in the entire NFL in Jennings, a stud WR in Nelson, 1 of the top TE’S in the NFL in Finley & 2 other good WRS in Driver & Jones. What some some guys for some reason cant get thru there head is that team is so good you could put many QBS in the NFL on that team & they would do great. Now I am not saying as good as Rodgers but I am saying they would be VERY GOOD NFL QBS based on the talent around them!

  22. By joe on Jan 2, 2012 | Reply


  23. By joe on Jan 2, 2012 | Reply

    HEY SPICER maybe you can tell us all how come a qb ALMOST ALWAYS WINS THE MVP AWARD .Spicer last time i checked MVP MEANS MOST VALUABLE PLAYER .They dont give it to WR or lineman Spicer they give it to QBS .(NOT IN YOUR WORLD BUT IN THE REAL WORLD )see ROGERS BREES BRADY MANNING

  24. By joe on Jan 2, 2012 | Reply

    Specifically SPICER SINCE 2000 the NFL MVP award (AP ) HAS gone to a QB (no SPICER SANCHEZ DIDNT WIN THIS YEAR) 8 out of 10 times .

  25. By GaryC on Jan 2, 2012 | Reply

    spicer, I was the one in the beginning of the year who mentioned Nelson when nobody knew who he was,when people were raving about Plastico Burress,right now you could trade both burress and holmes for nelson and it would be a good deal for jets,Jet Fan Tom,the ducasse pick isn’t looking good but he needs to play guard,he will never make a tackle,feet to slow.As for Flynn I just refrenced his name, as to backup quarterbacks who can play if their weapons around them are top notch,but then again people thought Cassell would be good if he left patriots.

  26. By Tom Spicer on Jan 2, 2012 | Reply

    JOE WRONG AGAIN! Put 1 Brady 2 Big Ben 3 Brees 4 Stafford 5 Romo 6 Rivers 7 Eli 8 Peyton 9 Schaub 10 Cutler 11 Newton 12 Fitzpatrick 13 Flacco 14 Ryan 15 Vick 16 Palmer & 17 Schaub. All on the Packers with the talent they have all the QBs I names would be as good as they are now or better. Also ALL OF THEM would be good to great NFL QBS. 32 teams 17 QBS I just named. THAT IS MORE THAN HALF THE LEAGUE ! W-R-O-N-G A-G-A-I-N!

  27. By joe on Jan 3, 2012 | Reply


  28. By joe on Jan 3, 2012 | Reply

    pS HEY SPICER your very forgetful AS YOU forgot TO TELL US exactly why THE AP WRITERS ALMOST ALWAYS NAME A qb MVP of the league. ys (and that qb always SEEMS TO THE ONE WITH THE LOMBARDI )

  29. By Tom Spicer on Jan 4, 2012 | Reply

    Joe, Dilfer & Johnson not good QBS. Brady when they won there 3 titles they were a running team with a dominate D. Rothesilburger when he won his 2 titles they were a running team with a dominate D. Eli when he won his title they were a running team with a dominate D. THAT IS 8 OUT OF THE LAST 11 were either not good QBS or game MANAGERS at that point in there career.

  30. By joe on Jan 5, 2012 | Reply

    Spicer your DREAMING AGAIN. BRADY 3 RINGS ROTHESBURGER 2 BREES 1 ROGERS 1 MANNING 1 MANNING 1 ALL THE QB LISTED ARE PRO BOWLERS SPICER Most also have been named the most valuable player in the NFL.SPICER LOOK UP AND SEE WHAT IT MEANS TO BE NAMED TO THE PRO BOWL AND TO BE NAMED MOST VALUABLE PLAYER IN THE LEAGUE.No Spicer(your opinion doesnt count ) Sanchez didnt quite make either this year .

  31. By Tom Spicer on Jan 7, 2012 | Reply

    Joe, My opinion doesnt count but yours does? LOL YEA OKAY!

  32. By joe on Jan 7, 2012 | Reply

    Spicer (besides the fact that ) you post things like REX NEVER GUARANTEED US A SUPER BOWL WIN and THEY GIVE THE AP NFL MVP to a QB EVERY YEAR) YOUR on here TRYING to compare one of the worst QBS in the NFL(Sanchez) with qbs THAT are FIRST BALLOT hall of famers.

  33. By joe on Jan 7, 2012 | Reply

    Spicer I READ SOME OF YOR POSTS to my buddys who have a combined 20 plus years as NFL PLAYERS AND THEY THINK YOUR KIDDING WITH SOME OF YOUR REPLYS .When i assure them your not YOU SHOULD SEE THE LOOK ON THEIR FACES.

  34. By Tom Spicer on Jan 8, 2012 | Reply

    Joe, I could write a book with all the things that are wrong that you have posted if I wanted to. Like Brady, Ben & Eli not being on D first, run first teams. Like them not being game managers when they won there titles. I could go on & on & on.

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